April 16, 2024

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The joke that cost $2 million: China fines army-themed comedian spoof


Hong Kong
CNN

A Chinese stand-up comedian’s joke loosely referring to a slogan used to describe the country’s military has cost an entertainment company more than $2 million after being slapped with huge fines by the authorities.

The costly punishment underscores the delicate line that comedians have to tread ChinaThe increasingly restrictive social environment, the tighter censorship and the dire consequences for those in the entertainment industry who are believed to have stepped out of line.

Li Haoshi, better known by his stage name HouseHe caught the attention of authorities this week after using a phrase linked to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army during his comedy show at the Century Theater in Beijing over the weekend.

As the official backlash grew, Li canceled all of his shows while the entertainment company representing him, Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media, issued an apology.

The Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism said Wednesday that one of the company’s subsidiaries will be fined $1.91 million and stripped of $189,000 it made in “illegal gains” — an apparent reference to the two live performances Lee gave him last weekend. The company has also been suspended indefinitely from holding any shows in the capital.

Wednesday evening, the police in Beijing He said They opened an investigation into Lee, claiming that his performance “deeply insulted” the military and caused a “bad social impact”.

In 2021, China enacted a law banning any insult or slander against the military. Last year, he was a former investigative journalist to rule to seven months in prison after he questioned China’s role in the Korean War as portrayed in a massive patriotic movie.

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To many, my joke may seem harmless.

During the show, he starts a skit about how he has adopted two stray dogs since moving to Shanghai.

He went on to say that their chasing after a squirrel once reminded him of eight words, before unleashing the controversial rhetoric, according to an audio recording posted on Chinese social networking site Weibo.

“Good business style, capable of winning battles,” he said, flipping a well-known Chinese Communist Party slogan referring to the People’s Liberation Army.

The phrase was first uttered in 2013 by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who also heads the military, when he put together a list of adjectives he commanded from the nation’s military. It has since been repeated on various official occasions and in state media.

Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media is one of the largest producers of stand-up comedy shows in the country.

Issuing the sentence in a statement on Wednesday, authorities in Beijing concluded that Li’s performance on Saturday contained “a plot amounting to grave insult to the People’s Liberation Army and causing bad social influence.”

“We will never allow any company or individual to arbitrarily slander the glorious image of the People’s Liberation Army on stage in [Chinese] Capital, never allow people’s deep feelings to hurt soldiers, and never allow serious topics to be turned into entertainment,” said the Culture Authority.

Li has already apologized on Chinese social media platform Weibo, where he has 136,000 followers.

“I will take all responsibility and cancel all my shows to think deeply and re-educate,” he wrote on Monday.

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Shanghai Xiaoguo Culture Media earlier said it had suspended the comedian from all productions indefinitely.

Stand-up comedy has gained traction in China in recent years on the back of the emerging trend of televised competitions pitting stand-out comedians against each other.

After the sanctions were announced, some Chinese netizens took to the Twitter-like platform Weibo to praise the official body’s decision.

“aptly. “Stand-up comedy is a low-key form of art that is thought of as cultural,” one user wrote.

But others fear it will lead to a further crackdown on comedy.

China imposes strict control On issues that you consider sensitive – who Women’s split To criticize the Communist Party. This ideological control was tightened under Xi’s rule, greatly affecting the entertainment industry.